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Dolphin Tale (3D/2D) (2011) Print E-mail
Monday, 19 December 2011
ImageBrace yourself.  There is virtually nothing about “Dolphin Tale” that is original.  Combine “Homeward Bound” with “Free Willy” and you have “Dolphin Tale.”  I can’t decide whether it is the actors, the directing, the screenplay or the characters that cause the biggest problems.  Or maybe it is all of the above.  Yeah, that’s it.

“Dolphin Tale” is one of the slowest moving films for the first hour.  In that hour, and throughout the film, you are saturated with excruciatingly long pauses and useless sequences.  It won’t take you more than 10 minutes of the film before you want to toss the lead kid off a cliff.  I’m not exaggerating.  Chalk it up to a combination of the direction and the actor and the screenwriting, but the kid just stares at people in every sequence.  Routinely it is a simple yes or no question and then the camera just sits on the kid with a blank expression on his face.  You just want to shake the kid to snap him out of it.  Answer, speak, open you mouth, it isn’t that hard.

Getting past the poorly written and acted lead character, the rest of the film doesn’t fair much better.  Sequences are spotty, never really fully developed.  The film feels like it is a combination of sub plots, none of which blend together.

This story is based on a real tale, but I think the real life story is much more interesting than anything this film offers.  So, what is the best part of the film, Winter.  The actual dolphin who inspired this film makes her film debut.  She delivers a better performance by a factor of 10 than any of the human actors in the film.  It must be true, dolphins are smarter than humans.  Winter is engaging and fun.  I can’t say the same for the rest of the film. The resolution of the film is anti-climatic and you are left with a feeling of nothing more than a pat on the back.  Sure, there are a couple moments that might have you keeping back some tears, but they don’t arise for more than a second.

3D Video:

“Dolphin Tale” was originally shot in native 3D, which needless to say makes this one of the better 3D presentations.  First, don’t expect much 3D extension from the screen.  There are a few moments of this, but they occur so fast that you never have time to adjust and appreciate the 3D effect.  The astounding nature of the 3D video lies in the depth.  Therefore is no longer just a single foreground and background.  There is everything in between and beyond.  Color saturation is fairly good.  The 3D glasses will darken the blues makes some of the really awesome underwater moments less than spectacular in comparison with the 2D presentation.  However, the 3D and 2D versions are very similar in video quality in most regards, making it one of the more cohesive 3D/2D releases.  Black levels are solid and contrast levels provide nice depth in both 3D and 2D.  Shadows remain detailed and textures are excellent.  The 3D presentation will really get you more interested in this film than the 2D version ever could.


The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1.  This is audio track is decent but nothing to get remotely excited about.  The cleanliness of the track is commendable.  Dialogue, the primary component is perfectly intelligible.  The surround channels are fairly disappointing throughout.  Even with opportunities for neat water surround effects, the surrounds general just contain generic ambience.  This is likely a budget/director’s sound design choice.  Dynamics are fairly even as is the frequency response.  The LFE channel is lacking.  As I said, a perfectly fine dialogue track, but not much else.  This is truly sad given the 3D video quality.  It seems that we can one or the other but not a great combo 3D video and audio presentation.  I would like to take the 7.1 audio of “Fright Night 3D” and combine it with the 3D video of “Dolphin Tale.”

Special Features:

“Dolphin Tale 3D” comes in a 3-disc package.  Disc 1 is the 3D feature film.  Disc 2 is the 2D version and supplemental features.  Disc 3 is a DVD/Digital Copy.

The supplemental features consists of fairly typical of a “based on a true story” film.  “At Home With Winter” is a simple behind the scenes featurette that doesn’t really have anything to do with the content on Winter that you would think given the title.  “The Hutash Rainbow Bridge” is a short short.  “Spotlight On A Scene” discusses the opening 3D title sequence.  “Winter’s Inspiration” is the real story of Winter.  “Winter Meets Panama” is a deleted scene.  “Ormie And The Cookie Jar” is an animated short that has nothing to do with the film.  Lastly there is a gag reel.

“Dolphin Tale 3D” is a bummer of a film do to any number of production and post-production issues.  However, its 3D video quality is inspiring.  Meanwhile the audio quality is reserved and not a great match for the 3D video.  If you are in to 3D then try this one, otherwise skip it.

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